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Free Study Guide-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson-Synopsis
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 10 : Henry Jekyll's Full Statement of the Case

Summary

In this chapter, Henry Jekyll tells the reader his life's story. He was born to a large fortune. He was intelligent and industrious, but also had a certain "impatient gaiety of disposition." This might not have bothered other men, but it clashed with his desire to be serious and respectable. By the time he was an adult, he realized that he was living a duplicitous life and was shamed by his "irregularities."

He soon realizes the duality of man's nature. He believes that if he could separate these qualities, "the unjust might go his way...and the just could walk steadfastly and securely," without being tempted by evil or suffering internal struggles. He eventually manages to compound a drug with the intended effects.

Upon taking it, he feels horrible. Then suddenly he feels "younger, lighter and happier." He sees "disordered sensual images"; he feels wicked and evil, yet, at the same time, delighted and intoxicated. Upon seeing himself in a mirror, he realizes that he had lost his stature. Jekyll now reflects that Hyde's small size was due to the evil portion of him being less developed than the good. As he continues to look in the mirror, he realizes that he is staring at the face of pure evil, yet he is not repulsed. Indeed, he feels even more spirited than normal. He then takes the antidote to conclude his experiment. He realizes that, as Hyde, he is purely evil, while as Jekyll, he is still the same admixture of good and evil as he was before and as, indeed, is everyone else.

He is tempted to experience life as Hyde. In this disguise, he is free to haunt the lonely, narrow corners of London and seek out "undignified" pleasures without fear of recognition or recrimination. He sets up Hyde in a separate house, orders his servants to obey him, and, after the incident with the child, opens a bank account in his name. He is appalled by his behavior, but he does not stop. He believes that he is "beyond the reach of fate."


One morning, however, he wakes up in the shape of Hyde and undergoes a brief period of fear before he can get the drug to transform himself back. He realizes that his evil nature is growing stronger and is in danger of gaining the upper hand. As he wonders what to do, he reflects that, as Jekyll, the composite man, he will miss all the pleasures that Hyde indulged in, while as Hyde, although he will lose all that Jekyll possesses -- friends, hopes, respect, etc., -- he will hardly notice the loss. Jekyll fears for Hyde, but Hyde does not care in the least about Jekyll. Frightened, he determines to cast off the nature of Hyde.

For two months, Jekyll lives the life of the respected doctor. Yet he does not get rid of Hyde's clothes nor give up his house. Finally, he allows himself to assume the shape of Hyde again. And on that occasion, full of an overpowering lust to do evil, he murders Sir Danvers Carew. He is filled with delight at the act, but at the same time terrified that he will be captured. He returns to his house in Soho, burns his papers, and, with "a song upon his lips," toasts the dead man and swallows the transforming potion.

Jekyll, in a fit of remorse and gratitude, renews his effort to abandon the nature of Hyde. He locks the back door to the laboratory and breaks the key. The next day, he learns that Hyde is being sought, and he is grateful to have this additional pressure to keep him in check. He redoubles his efforts to do good and enjoys his life, but, although he keeps his vow not to become Hyde, his dark side begins to "growl for license."

Sitting in the park one day, he suddenly changes to Hyde. Realizing that he is in danger, he decides to enlist Lanyon's help in getting the drugs that will transform him back. Upon returning to himself, he realizes that he is no longer afraid of the gallows; he is afraid of "the horror of being Hyde." He returns home as if in a dream.

Thereafter, the nature of Hyde begins to assert itself constantly, and Jekyll must continually take the drug to revert back to himself. As time goes on, he becomes weaker and sicker as Hyde seems to grow stronger. Jekyll is appalled that he has this evil within him. Hyde, in turn, detests Jekyll for his weakness and resents having to enter into his body for his safety. To get at Jekyll, he burns his papers, destroys the picture of his father, and scrawls blasphemies in his books. Ironically, while Jekyll grows weary of life, Hyde is filled with a passion for it and fears that Jekyll may kill him by committing suicide.

About a week before writing this note, Jekyll's supply of drugs begins to run low, and he sends out for a fresh batch. The new drugs fail to work, however, and Jekyll realizes that there must have been some unknown impurity in the first batch which been responsible for the transformation. He is currently writing, as Jekyll, under the effects of the last of his old supply of drugs. He knows that Hyde, too, has been crushed, and he imagines him pacing in fear behind the door, awaiting capture. He wonders whether Hyde will allow himself to be hung or if he will kill himself first. He does not care: Hyde is another, and these last moments that he is Jekyll are the "true hour" of his death.

Notes

In this final chapter, which is the most substantial in the story, Stevenson writes from the point of view of the protagonist, Dr. Henry Jekyll. Jekyll completes and seals his account just before his personality is taken over by his alter ego, Mr. Hyde.

The first two pages are concerned with Jekyll's upbringing, character, education, and philosophy. Realizing the conflicting passions that exist within himself, he becomes convinced of the dual nature of humankind. "Man is not truly one, but truly two." This motivates him to experiment and discover a medicine that can separate the two aspects within himself. Through Jekyll, Stevenson suggests that everybody has a Mr. Hyde locked up within themselves.

Utterson, Lanyon, and Jekyll are prosperous professional men. They enjoy each other's company, but they do not have their own families. They have sacrificed a part of their personalities to their careers, and therefore they have gained eminence at an early age. For Jekyll, this is not enough. He has unfulfilled desires and passions, some of them quite dark. As Hyde, he can do what is socially unacceptable and then reappear as Jekyll, with his reputation intact. He considers this a wonderful and scientific way to get freedom from the limitations imposed by society.

When Jekyll first sees Hyde, he experiences "no repugnance, [but] rather...a leap of welcome." Though the new being is smaller, it is recognizable as something long present and known. The drug does not make Jekyll evil; it merely releases the repressed evil side within him. This acknowledgment of the possibilities of human nature gives the tale its modern edge and elevates it from being a mere mystery story or "shocker."

Hyde is a monster, composed of pure evil. Other characters recognize this at some level and are thus repulsed, even if they cannot articulate the reason for their reactions. Some critics hold that Stevenson is suggesting that this revulsion is not due merely to people being afraid of the evil that Hyde represents, but of the evil within themselves. Certainly, Jekyll is horrified by this aspect within himself, although he is also curious and eager to explore it. This exploration of his evil side is all too believable and thus chilling. Jekyll is aghast at Hyde's actions, but he continues to become Hyde. He even opens a bank account and sets up a residence for his alter ego, so that he might move more freely. Jekyll is able to compartmentalize his experience by transferring his guilt onto Hyde. However, this will soon prove dangerous.

Hyde perhaps might appear somewhat tame as monsters go to the modern reader. Stevenson does not state explicitly the foul deeds that Hyde engages in, though it is likely that most of these "undignified" pleasures probably extended to nothing more than engaging in carnal lusts. Of course, Victorian morality held a dim view of sex and sexual expression, and it would have been considered improper for the respectable Dr. Jekyll to be openly visiting brothels. That Stevenson does not say exactly what Jekyll did fires the imagination, but as Jekyll openly confesses to his acts of violence -- knocking down the girl, killing Sir Danvers, and hitting a woman later -- it is unlikely that he committed any other acts which the contemporary mind might find abhorrent. He is certainly no Jack the Ripper. Of course, what makes Hyde evil and frightening is the pleasure he takes from his evil acts. When Hyde kills Sir Danvers, it is not merely an act of blind rage; he thoroughly enjoys it. When he comes to his senses, he feels no remorse, but only wishes to escape punishment.

And Jekyll contains Hyde. When Hyde emerges on his own, Jekyll is terrified. He decides to be good, however, not for moral reasons but because it is easier and less dangerous to do so. As much as he is horrified and remorseful for Hyde's actions, Jekyll ultimately does not want to lose his friends, riches, and respectability. The morally correct decision is easy, and perhaps too easy, for Jekyll admits in retrospect: "I choose the better part, and was found wanting in the strength to keep it." Jekyll's good intentions last for two months, but then he drinks the drug again. Stevenson does not make it clear whether he does so voluntarily or is urged by internal probing from a submerged Hyde "struggling after freedom." In either case, this time Hyde comes out in full strength and brutally murders Sir Danvers. When Jekyll renounces Hyde for the second time, the decision is again ambiguous. Jekyll even goes so far as to say that he is glad Hyde killed such a well-known person, for now that Hyde is being hunted, it will be much less tempting to become him. Self-preservation and good intentions go hand in hand, and Jekyll is thus able to be good and self-gratifying at the same time.

But Jekyll can no longer control what he has released. The next time he becomes Hyde, it is not due to voluntarily taking the drug. A mere weakening of moral attitude, as he sits in the park, is enough, and Jekyll's alter ago springs back in full control. From now on, the story rapidly approaches its climax. Hyde's power grows steadily, and the transformations take place without Jekyll's control. Ironically, while Hyde wishes to take over from Jekyll, Hyde needs Jekyll, for without the ability to hide behind Jekyll's skin, Hyde would soon be arrested and hung for murder. Finally, the drug runs short, and Hyde's final triumph appears imminent. The final triumph, however, is short-lived, for Hyde, fearing capture, commits suicide shortly following Jekyll's completion of his account. Both characters are linked to each other and belong to each other, and, as Jekyll ultimately learns, he cannot destroy Hyde without also destroying himself.

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